Do I say something? (But it’s the holidays…)

It’s that time of year again! A time for holiday gatherings with family, friends and coworkers. This holiday signals the beginning of a new year and sometimes new beginnings.

For many though it can be an incredibly difficult time of year.

Social and emotional stressors can trigger a desire to escape or self medicate, even subconsciously. Patterns of self-medicating pain then become destructive and lead to larger issues of addiction. Particularly during the holidays, addictive behaviors increase, and it’s important to recognize when someone may require treatment.

In his essay on addiction, actor Russell Brand wrote, “Drugs and alcohol are not my problem – reality is my problem. Drugs and alcohol are my solution.”

Why Treatment?

There are several important reasons why people with substance use issues need treatment. We’ll cover only a few here.

First, we know without treatment the problem will only worsen. No one chooses to become an addict and risk everything, but addicts eventually lose relationships, jobs, coping skills, legal rights and control in general.

Substance Use Disorder (as addiction is clinically known) is a process. Over time, the person finds that tolerance increases and their use becomes unmanageable. If caught and treated early, recovery can be a smoother process.

The second argument for treatment is that without it your loved one, friend or coworker will end up dead or in jail. We are seeing a tremendous rise in prescription drug and heroin deaths across the country, making it the leading cause of accidental death in 2015. (American Society of Addiction Medicine Facts and Figures)

Along with arrests for possession or illegal substance use, about one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders1. Arrests come with obvious financial costs, as well as, deep emotional and relational impacts to family and friends. And though it may be obvious to some people, not everyone caught in the spiral of addiction can recognize their legal issues are a possible sign of being out of control.

Why now?

One of the largest misconceptions of inpatient addiction treatment is that it is a LAST resort and that people who go to rehab are unable to function – practically homeless. That’s simply NOT TRUE! The reality is the sooner the better.

Those who struggle with Substance Use Disorder are not only dealing with the issues caused by the substance use, but they are also changing their brain! As they continue to use, the brain will develop addiction as a neuronal pathway possibly causing permanent brain injuries.

The neurological changes of the brain caused by addiction are best addressed through treatment. Additionally failure to maintain sobriety will begin to establish a pattern of relapse decreasing the prognosis of long-term recovery.

How can I help?

First of all, be honest with the person. Let them know that you’re concerned about their habits, behaviors or decisions. It’s not often easy, but your honesty could be the difference between life and death!

If you have questions ask for help. There are professionals available throughout the country who are ready to help. If you don’t know someone in your area, call or email me. I will help you get the answers you need.

Finally, encourage them to have an assessment or consider an intervention if necessary. Remember, early diagnosis and treatment can be critical.

When considering benefits for treatment, consider that an hour a day for most people – or even nine hours a week with intensive outpatient work – is not enough supervision time and support. Most addicts will still ravenously pursue that fix.  The benefit of constant supervision and support is imperative to help that person succeed. Also, removing the individual from their current situation is beneficial for focus and recovery.

If you have questions, need support or help, please feel free to contact me.

I’m here to help.

Clint Clark – 720.683.2639 –

1Fell, Jim. “Repeat DWI Offenders in the United States.” Washington, DC: National Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Traffic Tech No. 85, February 1995.

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